New Sanctions, New Startups: How Choson Exchange Made A Difference in 2017

New Sanctions, New Startups: How Choson Exchange Made A Difference in 2017

While rockets got bigger and sanctions became tougher in 2017, an enthusiastic group of local frontier entrepreneurs continued launching startups that make life better for people in the DPRK. Our latest Annual Report describes the challenges we faced and progress we made in one of the most difficult geopolitical environments in the world.

Pyeongchang Politics Part II: Ivanka Visits and US-NK Talks

Pyeongchang Politics Part II: Ivanka Visits and US-NK Talks

We mentioned previously that North Korea is likely to send a high level delegation to South Korea for the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Depending on how talks went during the opening ceremony and in the interim, we could see either public shunning by the United States of the North Korea delegation or on the other extreme, a public gesture between Ivanka Trump and the North Koreans.As North Korea is still unlikely to contemplate denuclearization, it seems that the negotiation continues. Some things to note in the run-up to the closing and at the closing:

Magic Calendar & Empire Of Longevity: Startup Pitches from North Korea

Magic Calendar & Empire Of Longevity: Startup Pitches from North Korea

Teaching startup skills and business knowledge to the frontier entrepreneurs of North Korea is often one of the most amazing things our volunteers have done. The recent Pyongsong Startup Bootcamp was particularly interesting: Instead of just telling us about their ideas, North Korean participants presented working prototypes and products they had already launched, looking for advice on how to improve their offerings.

Inter-Korean Talks 2018: Is a Thaw in Sight?

Inter-Korean Talks 2018: Is a Thaw in Sight?

We bring volunteers to train North Korean entrepreneurs inside the country. As such, any de-escalation of tensions is good news to us. Inter-Korean talks began Tuesday morning at the DMZ. While talks are good, they are only a start. In this case, the crux of the issue is still the nuclear/ICBM standoff, and these talks are only a starting point to find a way to resolve the issue. Without compromise on some or all sides, this precious momentum could still easily stall. But as David Carden, the first US resident Ambassador to Southeast Asia points out, sometimes talking about an expanded range of issues alongside the core issue could create negotiating space.

The Economic Aspects of Kim Jong Un’s New Year Address

The Economic Aspects of Kim Jong Un’s New Year Address

Every new year day, DPRK or North Korea publishes a New Year’s Address from Kim Jong Un that sets the focus for the year ahead. Much has been said on two aspects: Kim Jong Un’s “nuclear button”, a deterrence message (“I will launch my weapons at a notice if you threaten me”) and the rapprochement aspect with South Korea. Some consider the suggested North Korean attendance at Pyeongchang an off-ramp now that North Korea has achieved a threshold deterrence capability, while others consider it a peace offensive meant to split the US-South Korea-Japan alliance.

Digital Detox Week in the DPRK

Digital Detox Week in the DPRK

From the moment you board the flight from Beijing, things feel different.  Like any flight, you expect to have to set your phone to airplane mode, but the feeling of going off-grid is tangible.  A final “see you in week!” text and Facebook update as the plane pushes away from the gate, and an air of resignation when the attendant asks you politely to switch off.  Some speculatively check for coverage upon landing at Pyongyang Sunan airport, but as foreign SIM cards can’t connect to the local network, there isn’t much point.